Awka – Anambra State Government has warned people of the state over what it called return to gangster politics in the state, being perpetrated by the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
The State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba gave the warning on Tuesday, on the heels of weekend’s violent attack on a walk-for-health event organized by a PDP aspirant to the governorship position, Valentine Ozigbo.
The incident which happened on Saturday saw some thugs invade the Nnewi venue of the exercise and destroyed materials and structures put up for the purpose of the health walk.
Although some of the Nnewi Governorship aspirants fingered in the attack have come out to condemn it, the State Information Commissioner, Adinuba believes the entire episode smacks of what he called, ‘the violent trademark for which the PDP is known.’
“On Saturday, February 5, 2021, at an ominous event at Nnewi, a pavilion set up by someone who wants to contest the November 6 gubernatorial vote in the state, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, was vandalized by thugs, with a stern warning to the rookie politician not to ever visit Nnewi to campaign for public office. Ozigbo’s opponents feared that the walk-for-life could well be a subtle campaign for Ozigbo to become known.
“The thugs who vandalized Ozigbo’s pavilion and warned him and his supporters never to visit Nnewi on a campaign are suspected to be members of his own Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who were acting on the instructions of certain members of the party who want to contest for the PDP gubernatorial ticket with him. This act of irresponsible behaviour is a clear deviation from the new norm in Anambra State politics,” he stated.
According to Adinuba, the state had in the last six years, built a reputation for a high level of solidarity and social harmony, evident in the conduct of two major elections since 2017 without one single incident of violence.
“There was no violence during the 2017 gubernatorial vote which the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) won overwhelmingly in each of the 21 local government areas in the state,” he said.
“Against this background,” he noted, “the vandalism against Ozigbo’s pavilion in Nnewi and the subsequent warning meant to intimidate and cow him are a most ominous development. If a mere subtle campaign by Ozigbo to create awareness about himself and his interest to participate in the PDP primaries in June could attract so much hostility, we can imagine the extent some desperate politicians can go to silence their opponents when the campaign for primaries starts formally. The politicians are likely to become desperadoes when the campaign for the governorship election reaches its climax later in the year.”
The Anambra Information Commissioner said it is regrettable that certain PDP chieftains are determined to take Anambra State back to the dark era, when the people thought with the ouster of the Party from the state in 2006, has ended the era of gangster politics in the state.
By his calculation, between 1999, when it assumed the reins of power following the return of democratic rule in Nigeria, and 2006, when it was ousted, the PDP had unleashed so much chaos on the state.
“Even before the State House of Assembly could be inaugurated, self-declared godfathers had begun to plot the impeachment of the newly elected governor. The majority of the members-elect were taken to neighbouring Enugu State where they were, for all practical purposes, quarantined to carry out the impeachment plans unhinged.
“To make peace with the legislators-elect and the so-called godfathers, the governor had to make all manner of concessions to them. The concessions included allowing the godfathers to nominate the Commissioner for Works and the Commissioner for Finance, among other key appointments. Worse, the governor conceded to irrevocable standing payment orders (ISPOs), that is, an instruction by the state government to the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay the godfathers from the state’s monthly share from the federation account, regardless of the extent of work purportedly done in their capacity as state government contractors. In other words, they were paid before the government could pay civil servants and teachers.
“These unconscionable deals resulted in the nonpayment of government employees for almost one year. Schools were closed for a long time. Both teachers and civil servants became beggars.
“It is regrettable that PDP leaders went into paroxysms of mayhem against Anambra people, using thousands of thugs to destroy in broad daylight such institutions and facilities as the Governor’s Lodge in Onitsha, Government House in Awka, Judicial Complex in Awka, House of Assembly Complex in Awka and Anambra Broadcasting Service in both Awka and Onitsha. They kidnapped the governor, forged his resignation letter and falsely announced his resignation. There cannot be a better example of state capture than the PDP era of 1999 -2006,” he chronicled.
Adinuba noted that the government and people of Anambra State are worried at the determination of members of the PDP, to return the state to the days of intolerance, violence and chaos arising from a desperate desire to capture the resources of the state.
He however gave the assurances of the State government that it will not relent in its determination to provide a level playing field for all aspirants, candidates and political parties in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, but will not tolerate any kind of intimidation and lawlessness.
Meanwhile, Nigerian business mogul and philanthropist, Valentine Ozigbo whose event was attacked, has absolved the PDP in the state of complicity in the attack.
In a statement on Tuesday, personally signed by him, Mr Ozigbo, who is a frontrunner in People’s Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial race, thanked all his friends, party faithfuls, and well-wishers who reached out to him to commiserate over the ugly incident.
He said preliminary investigation has revealed that the attack was not carried out by anybody in the PDP.
“Those who engineered this cowardly act of violence thought they could break our resolve and cause disunity in the PDP. They have failed. We are now more united and strengthened in our resolve to reject the politics of violence and embrace a new era of peace and progress.
“The main motivation for this senseless violence was to slow the spread of our message for a New Anambra and the phenomenal movement of the Ka Anambra Chawapu Movement.
“Let it be known that these feeble-minded politicians know that they have been rejected by Ndi Anambra and they have failed in their mission,” Ozigbo maintained.
Ozigbo who is the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, also revealed that the security agencies have been notified of the development and have launched an investigation to fish out the culprits and their sponsors.